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Regional airlines boost passenger traffic at Changi

An AirAsia A-320 (in foreground) at Changi Airport. AirAsia has been ranked fifth based on passenger numbers. (ST FILE PHOTO)

Publication Date : 08-05-2013


Regional carriers continued to play a leading role in fuelling the growth in passenger traffic at Changi Airport last year.

They occupied four of the top five spots in Changi's third annual ranking of the top 10 airlines by total passengers carried.

Malaysia-based AirAsia jumped two spots to become the fifth largest airline by number of passengers carried, according to the ranking list released yesterday.

The low-cost carrier also registered the strongest growth in passenger traffic in Southeast Asia.

The top four carriers remained unchanged, with Singapore Airlines (SIA) in the No. 1 spot and its regional arm, SilkAir, in third place. Tiger Airways was second and Jetstar Asia came in fourth.

Changi's passenger traffic last year totalled 51.2 million, an increase of 10 per cent over 2011.

Yesterday, the five airlines were among more than 20 that received awards at the annual Changi Airline Awards ceremony.

Changi Airport Group (CAG) chief executive Lee Seow Hiang said the airport is now working on ensuring it has sufficient capacity to cope with growth. He said a multi-use complex, to be built on the site of the Terminal 1 car park, will raise T1's passenger handling capacity by 15 per cent. The new Terminal 4, which can handle up to 16 million passengers a year, will be ready in 2017, he added.

Lee was speaking at the award ceremony at the Regent Hotel, which was attended by more than 200 members of the airline community.

Besides the passenger airline award, top cargo carriers and those that were No. 1 in their respective continent or region by registering the biggest growth in passengers carried were also recognised last night.

FedEx Express was named by CAG as its "Partner of the Year" in recognition of its contributions to strengthen the airport's hub status and enhance its express cargo-handling capability. FedEx opened a 282,700 sq ft regional hub at Changi Airport last October, its largest cargo facility in the Asia-Pacific region. The US$97 million facility allows FedEx to sort up to 12,000 packages an hour, double what it could do before.

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew, who was the guest of honour at the event, said Changi is well positioned to gain from growth in China, India and Southeast Asia. But he said it needs to be swift in responding to shifts in the global aviation landscape, such as new airline partnerships and full-service carriers recrafting their business model.

By doing so, it can "capture our share of the growing pie and cement our position as a leading aviation hub", Lui added.

Touching on plans to increase capacity, he said an inter-agency committee will announce details of an airport masterplan by this year. This includes Terminal 5, which will be ready "some time next decade". A steering committee has been formed to find ways to further raise productivity, he added.


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